Mobile: Move over desktop?
Move over Desktop…?
In today’s world you only have to take a train to see how much we all rely on mobile devices - all heads down scrolling through phones and tablets. Whether it’s to catch up on news, read emails, do some Facebook stalking, online banking or checking (hoping) for the sunshine to long continue; it seems we just can’t be without our mobile devices. In fact, our use of mobile is now overtaking that of desktop at an ever-increasing rate, technology is becoming more sophisticated and our demands are changing.
Apart from the fact that we are using mobile devices more than ever before, we now also own more devices than ever, with smartphones and wearables in use alongside tablets, plus ‘second screen’ consumption through which we enhance our TV viewing, through supplementary content and apps. The mobile device, whether it be smartphone or tablet, has tremendous and unique value: always with you, always on, location and payment-enabled, and becoming more useful for more things, every day. These trends point to a smarter world where our reliance on desktop is shrinking.
As far back as 2008 analysts predicted the trend to move away from desktop usage, and we’re seeing that come to fruition now. Some now even argue that the increase in usage of smartphones and tablets will eventually replace our laptops and PCs completely.
There are now 3.65 billion unique global mobile users. A massive 1.91 billion of these users have smartphones, and this number is set to rise to 2 billion by 2017. By 2018, smartphone owners will represent half the world’s mobile users. So is this really the beginning of the end of desktop?
Device vs. Need and Experience
It seems that currently most of us still use a combination of mobile and desktop for differing needs, with Google citing that 90% of us switch between devices to achieve varying goals. For example, one may always opt to use their smartphone for Facebook browsing but would still book their Easyjet flight on desktop.
Irrespective of device and goals, online retail sales are big news - in the U.K. alone, they reached an estimated £52.25 billion last year, with the average shopper spending £1,174 online. With the introduction of one-click purchasing, shopping on a smartphone is certainly becoming easier but many of us still find that the weekly food shop or buying a new outfit, is just that bit easier (and a more pleasant experience) on desktop.
Things are quickly changing in this space though. An independent survey, commissioned by Urban Airship with 100 leading digital experts within the retail space, found more than 70% of retailers currently have a mobile app, and almost half of retailers say that between 21% and 50% of their web sales come directly from purchases consumers made on an app. On this stat, retail specialist Tim Paterson from Urban Airship comments “It’s not surprising that in-app purchases are increasing as a percentage of digital sales. A growing number of consumers prefer mobile apps to traditional websites. And although more digital transactions still occur outside of mobile apps, it’s the crucial pre-shopping interactions taking place via mobile that can have a big impact on the buying process.” When asked about when they thought they would achieve an omnichannel strategy that fully integrates their app, it was revealed 94% believed that they will have reached this feat within the next two years. On the budget front, 80% of respondents will be allocating at least 21% of their digital budget to m-commerce over the next 12 months.
So, what else do we favour using our mobiles for, over laptops and PC’s?
When you ask most people what they use their smartphones for, many of the top answers would be “to check Facebook”. Let’s be honest, many of us are Facebook fanatics who can’t bear to go a day/hour/second without a quick spy on our not-so-nearest and dearest. The Facebook app is so easy to use and some feel a better user experience than the desktop site.
When Facebook went public in May 2012, it didn’t have a single ad on mobile. Six months later, CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg gave three reasons why mobile was his company’s future. ‘For one, there’s more mobile users. Second, they’re spending more time on it... third, we can have better advertising on mobile, make more money.’ Unsurprisingly he was right and it was reported in April of this year that Facebook's mobile revenues increased 82% year on year.
Similarly, the once deemed ‘harmless fad’ that is the selfie, is a phenomenon that doesn't seem to be going away any time soon. Without the smartphone, we wouldn’t be expressing ourselves to the world in the same way. Dr Mariann Hardey, a lecturer in marketing at Durham University explains, ‘The selfie is revolutionising how we gather autobiographical information about ourselves and our friends. It's about continuously rewriting yourself. It's an extension of our natural construction’. Whether it’s snapping yourself against an idyllic backdrop or pouting in your latest designer specs, selfie-taking is a mobile epidemic.
So for things like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and instant messenger it certainly looks like Mobile is the future.
But as we touched on above, there are some activities, such as the weekly food shop, that most of us still prefer doing on a desktop. Although businesses are increasingly making efforts to optimise their mobile e-commerce sites, some of the basics such as screen size, search and filtering, often mean that a shopping experience on desktop is much more navigable and pleasant for the user.
From a business perspective, according to an eMarketer report, another place where desktop continues to outshine mobile is in the area of ROI on ads. Although ROI on mobile search is improving, it is argued that it will continue to fall behind desktop search ROI, until mobile performance measurement (particularly in relation to the impact on sales in physical stores) gets more precise.
As a result, businesses still need to place focus on desktop design and optimisation. Once again further endorsing the theory that the more holistic approach to mobile and desktop should reign.
Also of note, is that some applications require us to use mobile and desktop devices in tandem for security purposes, such as Google Mail and banks. Two-factor authentication ensures it is much harder for hackers to gain access and steal customer information.
So, should we really be saying ‘move over, desktop?’ - hmm we don’t think so….. (just yet).
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